Posts Tagged ‘hops’

catching up

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

sorry for the lack up updates recently!  here’s a summary of some beer-related happenings that are in the works on my end:


I watched the phantom carriage brew area go from this:


to this:



I watched my first new crop of cascades go from this:


to this:



I made another pilgrimage to the stuffed sandwich to check out some ancient bottles:


and I kept busy prototyping a bunch of beers for the brewery (rest assured, many are pretty experimental/wild):



I also managed to sweep the sour category at the pacific brewer’s cup, which had a record number of entries this year:



we are on the final push with the brewery build-out and should be brewing/serving beer in the near future.  I will post our opening date once it has been determined.  hope to see some of you there!  in the meantime, you can feed your need for content by following my instagram page, which gets updated more frequently with on-the-spot beer (and surf) shots.


hop storage, pacific brewers cup, LA beer week

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

last weekend I weighed out and bagged this year’s hop harvest.

  • I ended up with 2.5 oz. of vojvodina, 2 oz. of cascade, and a paltry 0.5 oz of chinook.  my goal next year is to mulch with compost, maintain a regular fertilization schedule, and let all runners have at it up the vine.  hopefully that will increase yields, especially with my in-ground rhizomes.

I also received some good news from the pacific brewer’s cup, a local homebrew competition hosted by three homebrew clubs.

  • I was stoked to hear that my turbid mash lambic took second place in the cat. 17 sour ale category under straight (unblended) lambic.  a bunch of homebrewer buddies also cleaned house, which helped to cement an overall competition club win by my homebrew club, pacific gravity.  great job everybody!

I’ve also been busy participating in some festivities for LA beer week, which is going on all this week and weekend (check it out if you’re local!).

  • I kicked off beer week in style by heading over to the monthly pacific gravity meeting, and helped out during the weekend by pouring some of my homebrew (white and light house saison) over at monkish during a bus tour of four local breweries.

I also finally got around to taking a decent shot of my fermentation room for those who are curious (see below).  big things are in the works, so stay tuned for updates!


eagle rock brettanomyces event, project updates

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

yesterday AP and I finally made it up to eagle rock brewery to attend their latest beer education lecture on brettanomyces.

additionally, I made some headway on a couple of side projects this weekend.

  • since my last update, my hops have been growing aggressively, and when it came time to harvest my chinook variety I ended up with 2.5 oz of dry, dank cones that I vacuum sealed and tossed in the freezer for an upcoming batch.  there look to be around three times as many cones on my cascade plant, so I am looking forward to another picking session in a week or two once they mature a little more.
  • I also had an hour or two to kill on saturday and, thinking back to a thread on homebrewtalk, I ran over to home depot and picked up a hand pump sprayer and adapter which I turned into a pump line cleaner in about five minutes flat.  this $15 investment should pay for itself a million times over now that I don’t have to use CO2 to clean my draft lines or beer out dip tubes in my kegs…

OC fair, bottling the mead, hops update

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

last saturday AP and I headed out to the OC fair for a “VIP party” in honor of competing homebrewers.

  • unfortunately for my ego, none of my entries placed (~500 entries were received), but several of the winning homebrewers were pouring samples of their prize beers.  memorable pours included a nut brown hemp ale from a great impromptu draft system by backhousebrew and a bright red mead aged on red hots.
  • everyone at the event (both staff and homebrewers) were friendly and approachable, and readily gave out both brews and advice.  after downing some sandwiches, pouring some choice brews, and scoring some raffle schwag from steelhead brewery, AP and I headed off to be immersed in the chaos of the fair, cooking under the midday sun.

the next day, I decided to bottle my local mead, thereby putting an end to almost a month of procrastination.

  • I cleaned and sanitized two cases of wine bottles that had been collected and de-labeled over the course of a few months, filled them up off the secondary keg, and corked them using a portugese floor corker.
  •  corking with the floor corker was a breeze, and I patted myself on the back for picking one up instead of a hand-held corker, which are notoriously inefficient.
  • my bottled mead finished at 9.25 brix (o.996 FG), for an abv of 13.9%.  it has a terrific sweet honey/floral aroma and a vinous finish (the champagne yeast comes through in the back end), and had little noticeable heat, which should dissipate further within the next five months in the bottle.  I had trouble keeping AP away from the gravity sample, which was a good sign for future drinkability.
  • the mead was significantly cloudy, which doesn’t bother me, but which could be avoided by frequent racking off the sediment.  this was reinforced by a conversation with a meadmaker I had at the OC fair – they rack their award-winning mead every three months for a crystal-clear end product.

I also managed to tend to my hop plants this weekend, which are showing steady signs of growth.

  • my vojvodina and chinook varieties appear to have slightly larger yields than last year, and my cascade has been growing like a bush in the ground, sending up new runners every week.
  • the mt hood and sterling plants have send up promising runners, but have yet to flower.  the zeus crown that I split a while back has shown minimal growth and seems to be waiting for something to happen.  I’ve got my fingers crossed…

mead v.2.0, dreg culturing, hop/funk updates

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

with over a month between me and my last brew session, I was again itching to get a boil going.

  • unfortunately, the long weekend was packed with events, so I was left with a thursday evening and a third of a garage to work with.  luckily, AP had picked up fifteen pounds of local honey from the farmer’s market a few weeks back, so these limited conditions proved perfect for a quick mead-making session.
  • I stuck with my old preparation4 gals@ 115F, 14lb honey, cool below 80F, hit with some O2, add yeast and nutrients.  I went with WLP715 again and added staggered nutrients for the first three days while degassing the mead.  to fight the heat, I stuck the fermenter in my temp-controlled fermentation fridge at ~67F and will ignore it for about a month before racking it to a corny keg.
  • anyone even remotely interested in mead should give mead-making a shot – total prep time (including cleanup) was about 1.5 hrs, and using a turkey fryer setup and ambient overnight cooling you could probably knock it down to less than an hour.  the hardest part is finding suitable brewing attire

additionally, on tuesday I started formulating a recipe for this weekend’s brew session.

  • after pondering light, clean california ales and summer belgians, I decided on a non-funked saison (due largely in part to temps in the 80s).  unfortunately, my yeast bank only had slurries of WLP570 golden strong, WLP500 trappist, and my wild house strain, as well as a vial of WLP655 sour mix I.
  • therefore, my only other options were to (a) send in an online order and pay $12-15 for a vial that would likely sit in a hot warehouse for a day or two, (b) drive an hour round-trip to the local brew shop to pick up a single yeast vial, or (c) culture some yeast from a bottle down in the cellar.
  • I went with (c) and grabbed a bottle of upright’s four, knocked it down with some panang curry, sterilized the lip of the bottle with a butane lighter, and pitched the dregs into a 800mL starter.  hopefully three days on the stirplate will be enough to get the yeast ready for action.

the advent of summer has also triggered some great hop and bug growth.

  • despite having their initial runner vines accidentally amputated, both my cascade and vojvodina varieties have bounced back as strong as ever and are going nuts up the side of the house.  the chinook have also reached the two-story mark and are still going to the roof.  unfortunately, the zeus crown that I split never took off and what little foliage it has is getting cooked in the afternoon sun.  I still have my fingers crossed though…
  • a nice looking pellicle has also been developing on my cuvee de blanc, which is on its third month in the fermenter.  only nine more to go…

new fermenters, racking, hops, and BBQ

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

after having some difficulties procuring additional half-barrel stainless kegs for fermenting, I finally pulled the trigger on some 15 gallon barrels from US plastics.

  • I had initially dismissed these plastic barrels for long-term aging, but after more research I decided to give them a shot.  not only are they significantly cheaper than kegs, an airlock easily fits into their screw-off cap after five seconds of drilling.
  • after cleaning and sanitizing one of the new barrels, I purged it with a little CO2 and racked my golden strong (both the 10 straight gallons and 1 sour mix gallon) into it on top of 2.5 lbs of PV wildflower honey and 1.5 oz of french oak soaked in zinfandel for a couple of hours.  the golden strong had dropped to 11 brix, for a pre-honey ABV of around 7.25%.
  • I also tossed some ’09 cuvee de tomme dregs into my similarly-styled cuvee de cabrillo.  the CdT had great carbonation and was intensely sour, much more so than I remember when having it on draft.  I’m thinking this was due to the couple of years spent in the bottle.  hopefully the alleged superbugs in CdT will help add some sourness to my batch over the long haul.
  • also, after racking the golden strong, I tossed 4 oz of fresh amarillo and 2 oz of fresh columbus hops into my house IPA.  I’m planning on kegging this weekend and consuming soon thereafter for maximum hoppiness.
  • speaking of hops, my earlier transplant seems to be successful, as the cascade crown is aggressively pushing out shoots.  I trimmed back all but four runners and have my fingers crossed for some serious growth.
  • I also managed to enjoy the long-overdue socal sun over at PR and HB’s BBQ, where my kolsch poured alongside some great grilled veggies and marinated chicken.  summer can’t come fast enough…

north county SD trip/hop harvest round 2

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

last weekend AP and I headed down to north county san diego (carlsbad, oceanside, san marcos, etc.) for a quick visit that included quite a few brew-oriented visits.

  • when we first arrived, a trip to pizza port carlsbad was a no brainer.  we phoned in a pizza order and walked over, and by the time we got there the pizza was ready and there was only a small wait at the bar.
  • AP sampled the warm weather wheat and the carlsbad chronic, while I tried out atTENuation, poor man’s double IPA, and 547 haight.  my hands down favorite was poor man’s double – it must have been fresh out of the fermenter and had an overwhelming hop aroma that never stopped coming, and was also quite balanced for a double IPA.  this might be my favorite IPA at the moment…
  • the next day we headed over to port’s adjacent bottle shop to pick up some rarities, including some goodies from fantome, drie fonteinen, port, avery, dogfish head…
  • I even picked up a bottle of baird brewing’s rising sun pale, brewed by brewboard’s just-cj out in japan.
  • I hesitate to disseminate this information for fear of losing future selection to competition, but port’s bottle shop has some of the hardest to find bottles available for great prices.  if I remember correctly, bottles of fantome (all styles) go here for $12 or so, and individual 12ozs can be had for a pittance.  it’s hard to walk out of here without a box of choice brews under your arm…
  • later that day we cruised over to stone’s brewery/restaurant for more great beer selection and some good food.  stone’s layout is amazing – they have a killer indoor bar with their stainless brewery as the backdrop, and also have an outdoor bar overlooking their trail/ urban garden in the back.
  • AP and I grabbed some seats on the patio and enjoyed 4 oz. samplers of a large variety of brews, including terrapin/de proef’s monstre rouge (tasted like a malty/worty imperial red, no sourness detected), bockor’s cuvee des jacobins rouge (a classic, great sourness with good balance), and van honsebrouck’s bacchus, which was my favorite of the day with its smooth sourness and outstanding drinkability.
  • on the way back from stone, we dropped by texas wine and spirits, which claims to have the best beer and wine selection in the area.  well, port  bottle shop is right down the street, so I was a little skeptical, but when I was definitely impressed when I walked in and saw walls of craft bottles from all over.
  • they also had the largest selection of rogue beers I have ever seen, including ones I couldn’t find up in portland.  their selection complements port’s, and is now on my list of must-stops while in town.

on tuesday I managed to find some time to harvest the rest of my hops.

  • the vojvodinas were looking a little sun burnt, so I knew the clock was ticking to get them down and dried.  between the vojvodinas, zeus, and chinooks I harvested, I am guessing another 4-5ozs of dried hops went into my lineup.
  • the zeus were amazingly fragrant – I couldn’t stop taking whiffs of the bowl as I was picking them.  hopefully they will all get to meet some hot wort in the near future – I am thinking a homegrown pale…

DIY stirplate, hop drying, american amber ale brew

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

last week was chock full of brewing endeavors.

  • based on some threads over at homebrewtalk and a little elbow grease, I threw together a homemade stirplate using a computer fan, hard drive magnet, potentiometer, and power supply I had lying around.  I used a plastic dish as the housing and hard wired everything up with a soldering iron, and it works like a charm.
  • according to the latest northern brewer catalog (p. 36 to be exact), the constant oxygenation stir plates provide enables 4 times normal yeast growth in starters.  after using it last week on an american ale yeast starter, I was impressed – the starter took off fast and was chugging along much sooner than my old starters.
  • I also dried out my cascade harvest, and packed up 4.5oz of cones in the freezer.  I will probably use these as finishing hops in an IPA, or may wait until all my other hops are ready for a homegrown pale.
  • I also managed to squeeze in a brew day last weekend, and whipped up an american-style amber ale based on my house IPA hop schedule and a recipe for lagunitas’ kronik/censored ale:
    • 24.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 74.67 %
      3.00 lb Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 9.33 %
      3.00 lb Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 9.33 %
      2.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 6.22 %
      0.14 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 0.44 %
      2.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 34.0 IBU
      2.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (30 min) Hops 26.1 IBU
      2.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (10 min) Hops 7.5 IBU
      3.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (0 min) Hops –
  • after doing some reading about heat sticks, I picked one up on amazon and stuck it in my HLT for mashing/sparging and hitting a boil in my boil kettle.  it worked amazingly, and cut my brew time down by at least an hour.
  • however, with both the heat stick and the jet burner going at it, much more water ended up evaporating from my wort (2 gals/hr), leaving me with a 10 gallon batch (instead of an 11 gallon batch) and an OG of 1.08!  I think my higher mash temps and somewhat aggressive hopping will balance out the alcohol in this beer nicely.

beginning the 2010 hop harvest

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

aside from sampling a few draft homebrews (and discovering that the local elks lodge has quite a few beers on tap, including SN pale ale), the weekend went by without incident. on monday, however, the hop harvest began.

  • after doing some research regarding optimal hop picking indicators, I determined the following: wait until the cones are light and papery, and you can smell significant hop aroma, then wait a week or more for the cones to fully develop before picking.
  • last year, I picked my cones when they felt papery (and when I saw significant lupulin in the cones), but I didn’t really get any significant aroma from them, so I think I picked too early.
  • this time around, my cascade cones were light, papery, and smelled great, and my I ended up with tacky fingers after handling the cones.  I cut down the cascade vine and picked approximately a little less than a pound of wet hops, which will likely result in 4oz. of dried cones.  not bad for first year growth!
  • I spread the hops out in the basement on some mesh and put a fan on them to dry them out.  I plan on stuffing them in a ziploc in a day or two, when they fully dry out.
  • in the future, I plan on planting my rhizomes in the ground to increase output, as the time and effort put in for a 4oz. harvest could get a little frustrating over time.  I will definitely plant the cascade, which showed the best growth potential by far, but other varieties are still up in the air (columbus? amarillo?)

house IPA revisited; homebrew developments

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

last saturday I decided to brew an all-grain version of my partial mash IPA, which is currently in the process of being tweaked to become my house IPA.

  • I loved the partial mash recipe above since it produced a strong citrusy/floral hop aroma and remained well-balanced even after the hop nose faded a bit over time.
  • ideally, however, this beer should be consumed early.  I plan on a week for primary fermentation, a week of dry hopping, and a week for secondary fermentation in the keg before lagering and serving.
  • the malt bill was very similar to my partial mash recipe, and the hop additions were identical:
    • 5.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 44.05 %
      4.75 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 41.85 %
      0.50 lb Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 4.41 %
      0.50 lb Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 4.41 %
      0.30 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 2.64 %
      0.30 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 2.64 %
      1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (75 min) Hops 49.5 IBU
      1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (55 min) Hops 46.3 IBU
      1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (20 min) Hops 28.7 IBU
      1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (10 min) Hops 10.4 IBU
      1.50 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (0 min) Hops –
      1 Pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) Yeast-Ale
  • I struggled a little with my mash temps (I still have to iron out some kinks), but I ended up with an OG of 1.067, which was in line with my beersmith profile.
  • I mimicked the impromptu 75 minute boil I ended up with last time, which will hopefully give me similar results.  the profile suggests 135 IBUs, which sounds a little fishy to me, but this brew will definitely pack a punch.
  • luckily, my starter was ready to kick some ass when I pitched it with a shot of O2, and fermentation got off to a vigorous start.
  • in other brew news, most of the hops are doing well, but my cascades are going nuts. the vine has bolted up past the second story of the house, and cones are popping up everywhere.  I am looking forward to some great fresh hop beers in the near future…
  • I also got lucky and scored some 15 gal. plastic barrels from a guy on ebay for $12.50 a pop.  these guys just squeeze into my old kegerator-turned-fermentation fridge, and will be perfect for 10-12 gal. batches (soon to come – stay tuned).